They’re everywhere! Termites are active across the state of California, from Redding to San Francisco, down to Fresno, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego.
Bothsubterranean and drywood termites are well-known for damaging homes in California. And combined with all the lesser known species, they are responsible for millions of dollars in damage each year. Dampwood termites are also common in California. But, this species is less likely to damage structures than subterranean and drywood termites.
Formosan termites, a type of subterranean termite, which are rare in Southern California, were first identified in La Mesa (San Diego County), California, in 1992 and their numbers have been increasing ever since.
In general, termites swarm on a warm day following a rainy spell. Swarms also have a tendency to occur during the winter in heated buildings. The following is a list of swarming habits of California’s most common termite species.
The formosan termite, in San Diego County, typically swarms from May to September. They always occur in the early evening and on days during which the daytime temperature exceeds 88°F (31.1°C). Thereafter, smaller swarms may take place periodically as suitable conditons occur.
The western drywood termte, swarms during the summer rainy season, from July to September. This termite swarms at dusk, after a rain.
The Nevada dampwood termite swarms in the spring at higher elevations, and in summer and early fall in coastal areas. Swarms often take place before sunset.
In states like California where termites are extremely active and widespread, it’s essential to maintain an effective termite prevention and control program. If you own a home in California, talk to your termite control expertabout methods to help protect your home from termite infestations and damage.
Don’t be fooled, the “termite season” is a myth. Once termites get into your home, they are active, 24/7, all year long, feeding on and damaging wood members with one objective in mind, increasing the size of their colony.
Interesting termite facts:
Termites damage approximately 600,000 homes in the U.S. each year.
U.S. residents spend an estimated $5 billion annually to control termites and repair termite damage.
Homeowners will spend,on average, $3,000 to repair the damage termites wreck upon their homes.
States with the heaviest termite activity include: Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, the eastern part of Texas and most of California. Homes in these areas have the greatest risk for termite damage.
Damage caused by termites in the U.S. is greater than that of fires, storms, and floods combined.
Your Homeowner’s Insurance does NOT cover termite damage.
While a very real threat to wooden structures, termites are also beneficial.Their ability to digest cellulose helps them recycle the nutrient base of the planet.
Even sun worshiping, Southern Californians like the aroma, romantic ambiance and the warmth that a fire in a fireplace brings to their homes during cool, damp, fall and winter evenings. Although some enjoy the atmosphere of an electric fireplace, nothing beats a real wood fire.
Be aware! Anytime you bring materials from the great outdoors into your home, you may be importing hitchhikers. Firewood, pine cones, seedpods and other natural items often host insects and arthropods. The majority, of these pests don’t pose a real threat to your home, furnishings or family, but it’s nice to avoid the unexpected fright and frustration tha their presence can elicit.
Firewood insects usually belong to one of two groups:
those that actively feed on wood and
those only seeking shelter.
Here are some creatures that you might run into and some tips for keeping them out of your home.
Beetles are the most common group of insects found within firewood. Wood borers often attack dead or dying trees and are in the wood when it is cut. Often, the first indication of beetle activity is the presences of a powdery dust or frass coming from holes on the wood surface. Adult beetles may also be seen on or around the firewood. Longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae), Flathead and metallic wood borers (Buprestidae), Bark and ambrosia beetles (Curculionidae), Powderpost beetles (Bostrichidae) are a few you might run into.
Termites: Termites accidently brought indoors with firewood will not infest structural wood.
Their presence in firewood, piled close to the home, may warrent an inspection for termites.
Ants: Some species of ants- including carpenter ants can be found in wood. There is little chance they will nest in the home, but if wood is brought indoors and warmed up,
the ants can become active and create a nuisance anytime of the year.
Wood Wasps: Species of wood wasps, horntails and other wasp-like insects breed in dead wood.As with most of the insects mentioned here, they cannot re-infest wood or cause damage to a structure.
Spiders, earwigs, wood roaches, sowbugs, crickets and small flies may hide and/or overwinter in firewood. Oh, and don’t forget rats and snakes find woodpiles quite homey too.
Insect invasions of homes from firewood can be reduced by following these simple rules:
Avoid stacking the wood directly on the ground. This will keep the wood from getting too wet and reduce the chances for infestation by termites and ants.
Don’t stack firewood in or against the house or other buildings for long periods of time. Termite or carpenter ant problems can develop and cause more serious problems.
Use the oldest wood first, for it is most likely to be infested. Avoid the tendency to stack new wood on top of old wood.
Cover the wood during the summer and fall. This will keep it drier and exclude some creatures seeking overwintering sites.
Shake, jar, or knock logs together sharply to dislodge insects and brush off any obvious structures such as webbing or cocoons before bringing it inside.
Bring in small amounts of firewood that can be used up in a day or so and keep it stacked in a cool area (e.g., garage or porch) until it is burned. When wood warms up, the creatures in or on it will become active.
Do not treat firewood with insecticides. It is unnecessary and potentially dangerous due to chemical toxins released while burning. Pesticide treated firewood is a “Health Hazard”!
Always obtain your firewood locally. Firewood from other areas could harbor, non-native, invasive pests, and has the potential to create a destructive infestation where you live or camp. Most experts recommend that no firewood be moved more than 50 miles from its origin. If you are planning a camping trip, away from home, don’t bring your own firewood with you. Buy wood from a source near the camping area.
Say hello to one of your oldest relatives, named Protungulatum donnae.
After a six-year study of the mammal family tree, scientists now believe that many mammalian species (people included) originated with a tiny rat-like creature that crawled the Earth tens of millions of years ago.
Fossils of the Protungulatum donnaelook like the best ancestor candidate for the mammal family tree extending back 66 million years, and preserved evidence revealed that the creature weighed around eight ounces, had a long fuzzy tail and ate bugs. Maureen A. O’Leary, anatomist at Stony Brook University, says, “The findings were not a total surprise. But it’s an important discovery because it relies on lots of findings from fossils and molecular data.” [The New York Times]
Researchers reported, the animal had several anatomical characteristics for live births that occur in all placental mammals (creatures that
nourish their young in utero through a placenta) and led to some 5,400 living species, from shrews to elephants, bats to whales, cats to dogs and, not least, humans.
So now it all makes sense, why scientists rely on mice and rats, when researching cures for human ailments or studying human behavior.
Their genetic, biological and behavioral characteristics closely resemble those of humans, and many symptoms of human conditions can be replicated in mice and rats. “Rats and mice are mammals that share many processes with humans and are appropriate for use to answer many research questions,” said Jenny Haliski, a representative for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.
Some examples of human disorders and diseases for which mice and rats are used as models include:
Bed bugs are ancient insects and they’ve lived off warm blooded hosts since time began. Research shows that prehistoric bed bugs inhabited caves in the Middle East (the cradle of life), most likely feeding on bat blood until humans began to live in caves as well. Then the bat blood eating species developed a taste for human blood and our futures were sealed. Even today, bed bugs are perfectly capable of surviving off the blood of any warm-blooded animal, with their preference for humans simply being a result of our sleeping habits and choice of mattresses providing a safe and warm habitat.
IN THE BEGINNING:
The history of the bed bug, Cimex lecturlarius, can be traced by their name. In ancient Rome, they were called Cimex, meaning ‘bug’, the species designation lecturlarius, referring to a couch or bed. Could bed bugs have been the cause of the fall of Rome? Did Cesar set his bed on fire to rid it of bed bugs then stand by playing his fiddle while it got out of hand and the whole of Rome caught fire? Well it’s something to think about. Right?
Staying on track with history. Bed bugs were first mentioned on ancient Egyptian scrolls documenting how much of a nuisance they were to people. These scrolls date back to 3500 B.C. which is around the same time that the oldest bed bug fossils were discovered in archeological sites.
In 400 BC, Ancient Greece mentioned the bugs and they were mentioned again by Aristotle. According to Pliny’s Natural History, that was first published in Rome around 77 AD, medicinal uses for these bloodsucking insects included the treatment of ear infections and snake bites. Belief in their medicinal properties continued well into the 17th century. That’s when French naturalist Jean Etienne Guettard recommended they be used to treat hysteria. By 100 A.D., they were a well-known nuisance in Italy, by 600 A.D. in China, by the 1200s in Germany and the 1400s in France. England’s first encounters were in the year 1583 but until 1670 the bugs were rather scarce in England. These bugs did not recognize class distinction. They made themselves comfortable in the castles of the wealthiest and the crude huts of the poorest.
Bed bugs became stowaways then residents on our earliest ships – spreading around the world at the same speed as humanity, eventually infesting all of Europe, Asia, and then America. The early European colonists brought the bugs with them to the Americas in the 1700‘s.
In the earlier part of the 18th century, colonial writings document severe problems with them in Canada and the English colonies. In the 1800s, they were abundant in North America. As a side note here, there are no accounts of American Indians being plagued with these vermin.
As a deterrent, early civilizations made beds from sassafras wood (presumed to be repellent), and later-on, attempts to eradicate these bugs included dousing cracks and crevices in sleeping areas, with boiling water, arsenic, and sulfur. Some of the most extreme advice for killing bed bugs was published inThe Compleat Vermin Killer (1777), instructing readers to fill the cracks of the bed with gunpowder and set it on fire.
Effective bed bug control methods were finally found in the early 20th century with the development of DDT and other pesticides. DDT was so effective that by the 1950s complaints of bed bugs, in developed countries, were practically non-existent, with reports of US scientists having trouble finding specimens for research.
Pest control professionals and entomologists, today, have several plausible theories as to why bed bug populations have recently skyrocketed in the developed world.
They believe that a combination of cheap travel, ineffective pesticides (DDT and other pesticides, have been banned for decades,) and a lack of awareness has jump started their resurgence.
Here are some links that will tell you more about mans’ relationship with “BED BUGS”.
Nationwide, termites cause more than $2.5 billion worth of damage to homes each year. Crawling up into sill plates or foundation posts from damp soil, flying into attics or crawl spaces, these relentless insects tunnel into and eat wood, leaving nothing but paper-thin layers where strong supports used to be. They silently wreck havoc on homes and other structures.
Now scientists have found that besides being home wreckers, termites are also,
Most gold today is produced in large open-pit and deep underground mines. However, small-scale gold mining is still common, especially in third-world countries.
A recent study by Australian scientists found that termites excrete trace deposits of gold. According to The Commonwealth Scientificand Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) a federal government agency for scientific research in Australia, the termites burrow beneath eroded subterranean material, which typically thowarts human attempts to find gold, and ingest and bring the new deposits to the surface. They believe that studying termite nests may lead to less invasive methods of finding gold deposits.
In addition to gold particles being present in the mounds, gold can also be detected in the termites themselves if there is a high concentration of the valuable metal in the vicinity. Apparently metals like gold can build up in the digestive systems of insects, and show up as tiny kidney stone-like lumps. Researchers also believe that termite waste is a “driving force” for how metals get redistributed throughout an ecosystem.
For instance, paleontologists often comb through ant mounds to look for any miniature fossil bones and teeth the insects might have carried back to their nests.
Termites are not specifically selecting gold to bring into their nests. It is a fortunate consequence of their nest building technique and their technique effectively helps exploration companies find mineral rich deposits without expensive drilling.
Australia isn’t the first place that termite mounds have been used to prospect for gold deposits. In fact, civilizations in Africa have been using termite and ant mounds to prospect for gold deposits for hundreds of years and gold isn’t the only mineral discovered either. Copper, nickel and even diamond mines have been discovered by checking out termite mounds.
So, if you’re catching “Gold Fever”, grab your pick and shovel and a metal detector and head out to discover where termites (or ants) may be nesting near you. There may be gold in them there mounds!
Gather round the old campfire or maybe just the family fire pit. It’s Halloween and time for tall tales, urban legends and “True Stories”. Mother Nature provides the best material for horror stories and here are a few tales to get you ready for
“The Scariest Time of The Year”!
Stop! Don’t Lick that Envelope!
This lady was working in a post office in California, one day she licked the envelopes and postage stamps instead of using a sponge.
That very day the lady cut her tongue on the envelope. A week later, she noticed an abnormal swelling of her tongue. She went tothe doctor, and they found nothing wrong. Her tongue was not sore or anything. A couple of days later, her tongue started to swell more, and it began to get really sore, so sore, that she could not eat. She went back to the hospital, and demanded something be done. The doctor, took an x-ray of her tongue, and noticed a lump. He prepared her for minor surgery.
When the doctor cut her tongue open, a live roach crawled out. There were roach eggs on the seal of the envelope. The eggs were able to hatch inside of her tongue because her saliva kept it warm and moist, just perfect for growing roach babies…
This is a true story … Yuck! Anyone remember the Alien movie?
A young woman was sunbathing on the beach and was just about to drop off to sleep, when she felt an insect running along her jawbone and then down her neck. She brushed it away, and thought nothing more of it.
After about a week, she noticed what she thought was a pimple growing and growing. The skin was inflamed and it looked like a blister. Then, one day, she was blow-drying her hair and hit the inflamed spot with her hair dryer. The blistered skin broke open and hundreds of tiny white baby spiders and pus came pouring out of the wound!
It seems that while she was sunbathing, her pores had enlarged enough that a mama spider could deposit her egg sac in one. They incubated under her skin until she smacked herself in the jaw with the hair dryer!
Entomologists at the University of Illinois explained to National Geographic that spiders aren’t built to inject their eggs under the skin. They may be able to plaster them on top of the skin, but that wouldn’t make much sense.
A man was found slumped in an elevator, very much dead with two holes in his neck. The coroner discovers the man died in a state of shock, and he’d lost a lot of blood. However, to everyone’s surprise, there’s no bloodstains, no fingerprints, and no signs of forced entry. Things take another bizarre turn when, one month later, a teenage girl is found dead in the same elevator with two identical puncture wounds in her throat, minus a liter or two of blood. People are starting to think there’s a vampire on the loose. What other explanation makes sense?
The police are getting desperate sothey stake out the apartment, posting a detective and a sergeant inside the elevator. The men ride the lift up and down for hours and hours, which turn into days. On the third day, the elevator suddenly shakes and comes to a halt. The power dies, plunging the men into darkness, which isn’t good news since the sergeant suffers from a mild case of claustrophobia. The two pull out their flashlights, and it’s then they hear the click, click, click on the elevator roof. As their heart rates jump, they realize something big—something alive—is up there, crawling around, and it’s then that they see the hole in the ceiling where a panel has fallen away. The detective shines his light toward the hole and has to fight back sheer terror as he sees a large, hairy head the size of a soft ball, covered with eight shiny eyes, all staring right at him.
The sergeant isn’t quite as calm. Not only does he have claustrophobia, he’s also deathly afraid of spiders. He panics and drops his flashlight, and suddenly the three-foot-long beast springs into the elevator and lands on the sergeant’s face, where it proceeds to sink its jaws into his cheek and suck out blood. The detective is paralyzed for a moment, but then he draws his gun and fires, shooting off one of the spider’s hairy legs. Wounded, the creature rushes past the detective and escapes out the hatch, leaving one more corpse and a traumatized detective. Is the story true? Probably not. But it’s something to think about if you’re ever stuck in an elevator. And heaven forbid that the lights go out!
A family had just purchased a small puppy. They had only had it for a week or so and decided to take it to the beach with them. When they arrived, they found out that they could not take the puppy onto the public beach because of a city ordinance. Instead of traveling back home to leave the puppy or leaving it in a hot car, they left it on its leash… tied to the car.
After a few hours, they came back to the car to discover that someone had stolen their puppy. The leash and collar were still there, tied to the car. They searched all around the parking lot for the puppy. No luck. They did, however, find another scruffy looking dog wandering the lot with no collar. Instead of leaving with no pet, they decided to give the mutt a home.
They brought it home and kept it in the house with them for a week. They then decided to take the dog to the vet to get his shots, etc.
Upon examining the dog, the vet made three discoveries:
Their new pet was not a dog, but a large dock rat.
Their puppy was not missing, but had been eaten by the rat.
Could it be witches, ghosts or goblins? Monsters, Vampires or Space Aliens? No, No, No!
It’s Rats,Bats and Spiders that top the list of the most unwanted and fright inspiring creatures ever created. But with all the disturbing stories and fear provoking encounters, are they really the vile creatures of nightmares or are they being given a bad rap?
Rats are one of those animals that can trigger fears that center around sheer numbers. A group of rats is called a pack, swarm, horde or mischief. Imagine a mischief of rats streaming towards you in a darkened alley; this is the stuff of nightmares. For others, it is the long, snakelike tail that freaks them out, or the seemingly long sharp teeth that line their mouths. Considering their factual and fictional involvement in the painful deaths and disappearances of so many people, it’s understandable that society has a fear of these pests that can carry disease and pestilence. Either way, rodents are seen as harbingers of doom and a carrier of death.
Rats in hstory: During the period from 1664-1666, London was ravaged by theGreat Plague. Wiping out an estimated 100,000 people, which equated to about 20% of the capital’s population at the time, the plague also known as the “Black Death”, was all down to the bites of fleas carried in the hair of black rats. Disastrously, the residents of the city mistakenly thought that the disease was being spread by stray dogs and cats and so set about killing them. Obviously, cats are right above rats in the food chain, so taking out the predators of the vermin only worsened the situation. Interestingly, it was only in the 1890s that it was discovered that rats were the reason why the plague spread so quickly.
Rats in literature: Rats were also central to the plot of a well-known story that warned against going back on your word. The Pied Piper of Hamelinwas a character brought in by the Mayor of the town of Hamelin to help clear an infestation of rats, promising him a healthy reward for the completion of said task. The Pied Piper then played his pipe and the rats followed, happily lured to their deaths in the nearby river. Having completed the job, the Piper returned for his payment, but the Mayor reneged. So, in revenge, the Piper returned and played his pipe again, this time hypnotizing the children of the town. They followed him and, dependent on the version you read, they either disappeared into a cave, never to be seen again or were returned once the Piper had received his fee. Modern motion pictures, likeWillardandBen have raised the rat to new hights of villainy, whereas,
Disney’s American Taleand Ratatouille have made them into loveable folk heroes.Considering rats can be purchased in just about any pet store these days, maybe rats have caught a rap they just don’t deserve.
Bats have become the stuff of nightmares because of their nocturnal habits and ability to navigate in the dark, and because of their weird appearance as they resemble both animal and bird at the same time. Bats, through history, have been associated with deities, supernatural forces and the occult. In the mythologies of differing cultures, they symbolize both good and evil, life and death.
The most well-known and fear-inspiring is the“Vampire Bat”,belonging to the subfamily, Desmodontinae.
It is a parasitic species that drinks the blood of other animals including domesticated animals such as cows, horses, and pigs. No, it does not drink human blood! But like the vampire of legend, it sits on its’ prey, bites, licks blood from the wound and the prey never feels a thing.
The common vampire bat is found in the tropics of Mexico, Central and South America and are the only mammals that feed entirely on blood.
Over the centuries their fear inspiring, blood sucking reputation has spilled over onto other bat species that might look as scary but have more benign insect based diets.
Bats in History: But which came first, the Vampire or the Bat? It’s the Vampire, whose first appearance was made in the 11th century and gave rise to the medieval, bloodsucking monster. Whereas, bats originally come from the Americas and were discovered some 400 years after the appearance of the “Vampire”. One theory suggests that the Slavic word for vampire comes from the Turikic word for an evil, supernatural being, Ubyr or witch. The word Upir as a term for vampire is found, for the first time in written form, in 1047 in a letter to a Novtorodian prince referring to him as “Upir Lichyi” or Wicked Vampire.
Bats in Literature: The list of folklore concerning bats is endless, and even Shakespeare got in on the act. In his famous play Macbeth, he had his three witches adding “wool of bat” to their steaming cauldron, and in The Tempest (Act I, Scene 2) he had Caliban place a curse on his master Prospero, which included the line:
“All the charms of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you!”
Perhaps the most influential source for popularizing contemporary fear of bats was the fictional bestselling book, “Dracula” (written by the Irish author Bram (Abraham) Stoker (1847-1912) and first published in 1897). In it, he personalized the characteristics of the Vampire bat into what are now the traditional scary, and oddly romantic, blood sucking Vampire legends. Greatly inspiring the imaginations of other writers; his book led to a whole genre of stories and films.
Spiders were one of early man’s top, fear provoking creatures, way before humans crawled out of caves to hunt wooly mammoths. In fact, the fear of spiders, Arachnophobia, could be a product of human evolution, according tonew research out of Columbia University. Spiders presented such a great danger to humans during our early evolutionary stages that a fear of the species became part of our DNA.
However, there are other theories that have been put forth to explain human fear of spiders. Plymouth University Psychology professor, Jon May, suggests that it is their angular legs, dark colors and unpredictable movements that make arachnids so abhorrent to humans. It’s also possible that this fear is learned, as children are much more likely to become arachnophobic if they see parents or siblings reacting to the creatures fearfully. But regardless of which reason offers the correct explanation, we can all probably agree: spiders can be pretty creepy.
Spiders in History: As an ancient and powerful symbol found around the world, spiders have always provoked a wide variety of emotions in people: fear, disgust, panic, and sometimes curiosity and appreciation. This broad range of reactions has influenced origin myths, legends, art, literature, music, architecture, and technology throughout history.
In an ancient Greek legend, the world’s first spider was born from the pride of a woman, named , Arachne, which is where the name Arachnid comes from. North American indigenous cultures have often portrayed spiders as creators, helpers, and wisdom keepers. Egyptian mythology tells of the goddess Neith– a spinner and weaver of destiny – and associates her with the spider. Ancient Chinese folk culture celebrates spiders. They are thought to bring happiness in the morning, and wealth in the evening. They see spiders as lucky creatures, and “happy insects”. In Japan the Spider Princess,a mythological spider figure called Jorogumo, is able to transform into a seductive woman who entraps traveling samurai.
Spiders in Literature: Many folktales warn of the dangerous traits associated with spiders, such as ensnaring webs, lies and deceits, lethal venoms, silent attacks, and creeping terror. The spider gained an evil reputation in the 1842 Biedermeier novella by Jeremias Gotthelf, The Black Spider. In this tale, the spider symbolizes evil works and shows the moral consequences of making a pact with the devil.
The 1952 children’s novel Charlotte’s Webwritten by E. B. White, is notable for its portrayal of the spider in a positive light, as a heroine rather than an object of fear. More recently, giant spiders have been featured in books such as the 1998 fantasy novel Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secretsby J.K. Rowling, where the giant spider Aragog is a supporting character and pet of grounds keeper, Hagrid.
In graphic novels, spiders are often adopted by superheroes or villains as their symbols or alter egos due to the arachnid’s strengths and weaknesses. One of the most notable characters in comic book history is the Marvel comic book hero, Spider-Man.
Spiders have been present for many decades both in film and on television. The spider web is used as a prop to adorn dark passageways, into the the unknown. Horror films, featuring the spider, include, the 1955 movie, Tarantula, which exploits America’s fear of not only spiders but atomic radiation during the nuclear arms race. Then came the 1975 low-budget cult films, The Giant Spider Invasion, and Kingdom of the Spiders, a 1977 film starring William Shatner, depicting the consequence of hungry spiders deprived of their natural food supply due to pesticides. The fear of spiders escalates inArachnophobia, a 1990 movie in which spiders multiply in large numbers and reign terror over man.
Have a craving for more info on why spiders creep us out? Paruse these at your leasuire.
Controlling the minds of other living creatures is science fiction or at best the stuff of horror stories, right? Well for some, becoming a real live zombie is a deadly reality. In the race for survival, mind control, has become something of a specialty for some creatures in the wild and even your own backyard.
Ants: Feasting on the slime of a snail turns ants into mindless zombies.
TheLancet liver fluke (Dicrocoelium dendriticum), forces its’ ant host to attach itself to the tips of grass blades, the easier to be eaten by grazing animals. The fluke needs to get into the gut of a grazing
animal to complete its life cycle. As an adult, the lancet liver fluke—a type of flatworm—resides in the livers of grazing mammals such as cows. Its eggs are excreted in the host’s feces, which are then eaten by snails. After the eggs hatch inside the snail, the snail creates protective cysts around the parasites and coughs them up in balls of mucus. Real Slime Balls.
These fluke-filled slime balls are consumed by ants. When the flukes wiggle their way into an ant’s brain, they cause the insect to climb to the tip of a blade of grass and sit motionless, where it’s most likely to be eaten by a grazing mammal. That way, the liver fluke can complete its life cycle. Due to the highly specific nature of this parasite’s life cycle, human infections are generally rare.
Rats and Mice: Parasite blocks fear of cats in rats and mice!
Oxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite whose life cycle can only be completed in the body of a cat. Rats can carry it, but it needs a cat to survive. And the way it finds a host is ingenious – rats who become infected suffer a change in their brain chemistry which causes them to become attracted to, rather than fearful of the scent of cats.It also makes them attracted to the scent of cat urine and fur and there is evidence that infected male rats are more sexually attractive to females, transmitting the parasite sexually. Obviously, these rats don’t live long lives. Humans can also contract toxoplasmosis – some estimates indicate 1/3 of the world’s population has it. Occasionally fatal, it is particularly dangerous for people with weakened immune systems and pregnant women (which is why women are told to avoid cat litter boxes when they are expecting). Toxoplasmosis has also been linked to many other ailments, including schizophrenia.
Crickets and Grasshoppers: Non-swimmers dive to their deaths.
Horsehair worms (Paragordius tricuspidatus) live inside grasshoppers and crickets, sabotage their central nervous system and force them to jump into pools of water, drowning themselves. Hairworms then swim away from their hapless hosts to continue their life cycle. First, a tiny horsehair worm larva is eaten by the larva of another insect, such as a mosquito or mayfly. Once this emerges from the water, a cricket or grasshopper will snatch it up. Then the horsehair worm begins to rapidly develop inside its’ host.
body of water. The unfortunate cricket then drowns itself, allowing the horsehair worm to emerge and reproduce. Researchers have noticed as many as 32 worms emerging from one host cricket. From the outside, you can’t tell if a cricket or grasshopper has been infected, but neurologically, the worm is in control.
Fish: Dance to their Death.
The fluke (Euhaplorchis californiensis) is common in Southern California and Baja California estuaries. Its’ life begins in an ocean-dwelling horn snail, where it produces larvae
that then seek their next host, a killifish. (See “The Puppet Master’s Medicine Chest.”) Once it finds a fish, the parasite latches on to its gills and makes its way into the brain. But it doesn’t stop there. The fluke needs to get inside the gut of a water bird in order to reproduce. So inside the killifish’s brain, thefluke releases chemicals that cause the fish to shimmy, jerk, and jump, attracting the attention of hungry water fowl. Researchers, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that the parasite decreases serotonin and increases dopamine levels in the fish’s brain. The change in brain chemistry causes fish to swim and behave more erratically. These frantic movements are intended to attract the attention of birds, which eat the fluke infested fish. The flukes mate inside the bird, and their eggs are released back into the water in the bird’s droppings to be eaten by horn snails starting the cycle all over again.
Facts we wish were fiction. More Mind Control Stories.
September 22nd, marked the fall equinox this year; Where Summer blasts our days with her last hot breaths, and Fall creeps in with his first cool evening breezes.
It’s the time when, days and nights begin as equals and where days slowly shorten and nights lengthen.
It is the summer’s great last heat, It is the fall’s first chill: They meet.
–Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt
It all has to do with our swiftly tilting planet. The marking of Fall traditionally comes with the equinox, when the Sun’s path through the sky takes it from rising due East to setting due West. Since our seasons are caused by the tilt of Earth’s axis relative to its orbital plane, the equinox roughly marks the transition from longer periods of daylight to shorter ones or vice versa.
So what does this have to do with the world of insects? The two biggest environmental changes insects are genetically wired to perceive are the length of days (daylight) and change in temperature. The shortening of daylight hours and the beginning of cooler evenings, in the fall, signals the time for winter preparation. Unfortunately, your warm home may be irresistible to insects and other pests seeking shelter from the cold.
Even soil-dwelling insects, receive the “signal” to migrate deeper into soil. Their cue is soil temperature – as soil gets cooler, the insects dig down deeper.
In warmer climates, cool evening temperatures and the advent of the rainy season often sounds the starting bell for the annual insect race indoors and unfortunately, your warm home may be irresistible to insects seeking shelter from the cold.
The Top 5 Fall Pests Looking to Make Your House, Their Home.
Rodents. Rodent control and exclusion should be your number one fall priority, as mice and rats scurry to find warm, dry places to over-winter. Walls, closets, pantries, sub-areas, basements and attics are inviting spaces for these pests. Species to watch for: deer mice, house mice, roof or tree rats.
Flies. Fly populations are at their height in early fall because they have had all year to increase their numbers. As temperatures drop, some flies look for a retreat inside homes from the cool weather outside. The south- and west-facing walls of your home may attract flies in search of heat. If those flies are already overwintering, a warm day may bring them out of hiding. It’s important to remember that some flies can cause bigger problems than just irritating buzzing; they have the potential to carry diseases such as tuberculosis, typhoid, dysentery, and diarrhea. Species to watch for: cluster flies, fruit flies, house flies.
Stinging Insects. As fall approaches, stinging insects such as yellow jackets and other wasps can be quite active. After working all summer to create the largest nest possible, it becomes a struggle to feed so many with temperatures dropping and food supplies dwindling. Under such stress, the colony can become hostile and individuals can split off and start looking for nesting sites that will provide better shelter and more access to food sources. Species to watch for: yellow jackets,honey bees.
Ants. Cool autumn weather may bring ant trails indoors. Ants sometimes move their colonies into the walls of the home or beneath a slab of foundation to escape the chill. Effective ant controlis about locating the nest and preventing ants from getting inside. Species to watch for: carpenter ants, pavement ants, odorous house ants.
Occasional Invaders. This time of year can include a shopping list of unique fall insects, commonly referred to as occasional invaders. This includes stink bugs, boxelders and ladybugs. These pests enter homes in search of overwintering sites where they can wait out the winter. While these insects typically do not cause structural damage, they are generally considered a nuisance.
Species to watch for: stink bugs, lady bugs, boxelders, spiders.
We humans need to “take a lesson” from industrious insects, whose genetic imperative it is to continually prepare for life’s challenges, in order to assure its’ species successful survival. Remember Asoeps Fable about the Ant and the Grasshopper? See Disney’s 1934 version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3V9uL_ruafU
Now is the time to prepare our homes for the Fall and Winter insect invasions.
Screen attic vents and openings to chimneys, and any other areas where homes may be open to the outdoors, like mail slots and animal doors.
Keep basements, attics and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry. Pests are attracted to areas of moisture, something they need to survive.
Seal cracks and crevices on the outside of the home using caulk and steel wool. Pay close attention to where utility pipes enter the structure. Some rodents can fit through a hole the size of a dime.
Keep kitchen counters clean, store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles.
Replace weather-stripping and repair lose mortar around the foundation and windows. These are easy ways to keep not only pests, but also cold air out of the house.
Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and keep shrubbery trimmed. Removing areas where pests can hide near your home can reduce the chance of them finding a way inside.
Install door sweeps and repair damaged screens. Torn window screens and cracks under doors are an ideal entry point for household pests.
Inspect items such as boxes of decorations, package deliveries, and grocery bags before bringing them indoors. Pests can find creative ways to get inside a home. Shake out or inspect anything that has been left or stored outside.
Avoid leaving pets’ food dishes out for long periods of time. Pests don’t discriminate between people food and cat food.
Have a proper outdoor drainage system. Installing gutters or repairing an existing system will help draw water and moisture away from your home, preventing any leaks or build up that might attract pests.
Architects and engineers are turning to the insect world for ideas on creating the homes, working environments and products of the 21st century. Bio-Mimicry is Bio-Inspiration at it’s finest.
Scientists believe that, as fossil fuels dry up, termites, ants and spiders can offer valuable insights into how to design more environmentally-friendly offices, bridges, homes and products.
“Animals use materials not just because they work well but because they are efficient,” said Dr. Mike Hansell, senior lecturer at Glasgow University’s Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences. “Natural selection says the rewards go to those creatures who get most benefit out of their investments, so an animal’s structure will use as little energy as possible.”
Architects have much to learn from the insect world, according to Dr. Hansell, who has been researching animal building behavior for 30 years. “We need to investigate them much more thoroughly. We can see things insects are doing that we do, but they’re also doing things which we haven’t cottoned on to yet,” he said.
“Termite mounds are an inspiration. They adjust ventilation rates to control temperature and some shape their mounds in relation to solar positions,” he said.
Spider webs also have much to offer in the way of design inspiration. “You can see parallels between their attachment devices and man-made suspension and cable-stay bridges. You look at a spider’s web and realize the ingenuity that is going on,” said Dr. Hansell. And aircraft carrier designers can learn from the way in which webs are designed to catch flies travelling at high speed without breaking or risking a “trampoline” effect. The spider web is one of the most advanced structures in nature; in form, function and design.
The Eastgate building’s architect, Mick Pearce and engineering firm Arup borrowed their ideas from big termite mounds in South Africa that stay remarkably cool inside, even in blistering heat. The insects accomplish that feat with a clever system of air pockets, which drive natural ventilation through convection. The Eastgate Centre, a large office and shopping center in Zimbabwe, South Africa, is cooled much the same way, with the outside air (like the termite mounds). This system uses only 10 percent as much energy as conventional air-conditioning to drive fans that keep the air circulating.
Bug-Botsin our future. A team of researchers from Harvard University has developed a team of robots that can build architectural structures based on the behavior of termites.
Modeled on the way the insects build huge and complex mounds, the little bricklayers individually follow a set of predetermined rules, working without a design plan and without communicating with each other. Just like real live termites do.
The Harvard University researchers showcased the results of their research by making the robots build a small castle. Although the work progresses slowly, they say the self-directing robots are ideal for building in dangerous or hostile environments such as earthquake areas, war zones, under the sea or on uninhabited planets.
Arachnid (Spider) Inspired:
The Brooklyn Bridge is a hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge in New York City and is one of the oldest bridges of either type in the United States. Completed in 1883, it connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River was the first steel-wire suspension bridge. It has a main span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 m)..
The Ting Kau Bridge, Hong Kong, is an example of a cable stay design which reduces the resonance (vibrations) and the cost of the bridge. It saves tons of steele and also makes possible the transportation of heavy trains, cars and traffic.
The cables used to construct this bridge are made of steel, which is one of the strongest materials nowadays. However, technology and designers are searching for other kinds of materials that can be less destructive to nature and as strong as the steel, such as synthetic fibers inspired by natural elements like the spider web.
Honeycomb Tires are a marvel of engineering and can’t go flat. It doesn’t need air therefore it can’t go flat – which could be a real lifesaver for members of the military. Responding to the government’s need for tires that can support lots of weight, survive an IED attack and still speed away at up to 50mph, developers Resilient Technologies and Wisconsin-Madison’s Polymer Engineering Center realized that nothing was more perfect than Mother Nature’s design of the honeycomb. The series of hexagon shapes is extremely strong, and distributes weight evenly for a smooth ride.
This Honeycomb Housingproject draws inspiration from beehives. Architecture firm, Ofis, designed this low-income housing complex in Slovenia for maximum privacy and visual interest. The staggered
windows, with their colorful shades, also offer solar shading and ventilation.
The overall ‘artificial honeycomb’ effect gives the building a much more interesting look than would a conventional window layout.